10.01.08

On Senate Passage Of S.1703, Trafficking In Persons Accountability Act Of 2007

I am pleased that today the Senate has passed the Trafficking in Persons Accountability Act of 2007, which would improve our efforts to stop the abominable practice of human trafficking in the United States and around the world.  This modern-day form of slavery forces, defrauds or coerces victims into sexual or labor exploitation.  It is the world’s fastest growing criminal enterprise and generates $9.5 billion annually, $4 billion of which goes to the prostitution industry.  Nearly one million people, mostly women and children, are trafficked worldwide, including nearly 18,000 persons in the United States. 

 

This legislation would expand the Federal court jurisdiction over human trafficking cases to include offenses committed abroad by non-citizens that enter our borders.  Currently, the Department of Justice can only prosecute human trafficking crimes if they occur within the United States or are committed by a U.S. citizen abroad.  This legislation would permit the Department of Justice to prosecute offenders of trafficking crimes abroad if they are present in the United States, and punish human traffickers who attempt to seek refuge in this country.

 

Nowhere on earth should it be acceptable to deceive, abuse, and force a person into a life of enslavement.  We should not tolerate human trafficking across our borders, nor should we allow trafficking offenders to seek a safe haven in our country.  I commend Subcommittee Chairman Senator Durbin for introducing this legislation and for his hard work to combat human rights abuses worldwide.  This is an area in which I have worked for many years as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.

 

I was proud to work with Senator Durbin to create the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee, the first congressional committee to specifically address human rights issues.  This Subcommittee has held hearings on many important issues, and two important pieces of legislation considered by the Subcommittee will become law this Congress.  The Genocide Accountability Act closed a loophole that until now allowed those who commit or incite genocide to seek refuge in our country without fear of prosecution for their actions.  Soon, the President will sign into law the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, making it a crime to recruit or use child soldiers.  I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Durbin to make progress towards eradicating these and other human rights abuses.

 

This bill is a step forward towards the prevention of human trafficking, protection of victims, and prosecution of traffickers.  I hope the House of Representatives acts quickly on this legislation so it can be enacted before Congress adjourns.   

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